Once in a Lifetime Opportunity for the Niagara River Greenway

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper urges decision makers to support a once in a lifetime opportunity to make major progress towards achieving the regional vision of a world-class Niagara River Greenway.  By supporting a recently completed study, Regional Economic Growth Through Ecological Restoration of the Niagara Gorge Rim, our community would gain six miles of spectacular green space along the Niagara Gorge—from First Street in the City of Niagara Falls to Center Street in the Village of Lewiston.

The study addressed four basic issues; 1) a cost-benefit analysis of the physical removal of a section of the Robert Moses Parkway; 2) potential impacts of redistributed traffic; 3) ecological, environmental and recreational benefits of Niagara Gorge rim restoration; and 4) a process by which all of this be accomplished.

  • Costs for decommissioning the crumbling, underused six miles of Gorge parkway are estimated at $3.8 million, versus an estimated $55.5 million needed for reconstruction and maintenance of the existing road.
  • Capacity and travel times for three existing north-south routes immediately parallel to the parkway were evaluated, and it was determined these routes can easily accommodate the traffic volumes. The proposed traffic circulation plan would reconnect local neighborhoods to a restored Gorge rim and help direct visitors and tourists to the commercial district on Main Street in Niagara Falls.
  • Although Niagara Falls is recognized as a world-wide natural wonder, the Gorge has only recently begun to be appreciated for its scenic, historic and ecological values. The Gorge supports old growth forest species and rare plants due to its distinctive geology and hydrology. A restored Gorge rim would provide multiple benefits including a natural buffer protecting the river from runoff, and an improved habitat for species like sturgeon, salmon, osprey and bald eagles. Niagara Falls tourism currently averages one or two-night stays. The proposed Gorge Greenway trail with its many vantage points and links to our region’s natural and cultural resources, has the potential to expand the ecotourism experience within the region.
  • The study proposes a comprehensive process for removal of the Parkway in four segments over a period of five to ten years, including restoration concepts for each segment. A virtual flyover shows six miles of restored Greenway along the height of the Niagara Escarpment, with breathtaking views of the Niagara River and Lake Ontario.

The study was commissioned by Wild Ones Niagara and funded by the Niagara Greenway Ecological Standing Committee and the City of Niagara Falls. It was intended to inform and complement a number of ongoing planning efforts, including a New York State Parks’ study of alternatives for the Gorge section of the Parkway.

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper urges Niagara River stakeholders to review and support the integration and implementation of this study. Download the study here:  Niagara-Gorge-Rim-Study

Margaret Wooster is Senior Environmental Planner, and Jill Jedlicka is the Executive Director of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, a local non-profit dedicated to the protection of and access to our region’s waterways.

 

 

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